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1.  Course and prognosis of recovery for chronic non-specific low back pain: design, therapy program and baseline data of a prospective cohort study 
Background
There has been increasing focus on factors predicting the development of chronic musculoskeletal disorders. For patients already experiencing chronic non-specific low back pain it is also relevant to investigate which prognostic factors predict recovery. We present the design of a cohort study that aims to determine the course and prognostic factors for recovery in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain.
Methods/Design
All participating patients were recruited (Jan 2003-Dec 2008) from the same rehabilitation centre and were evaluated by means of (postal) questionnaires and physical examinations at baseline, during the 2-month therapy program, and at 5 and 12 months after start of therapy. The therapy protocol at the rehabilitation centre used a bio-psychosocial approach to stimulate patients to adopt adequate (movement) behaviour aimed at physical and functional recovery. The program is part of regular care and consists of 16 sessions of 3 hours each, over an 8-week period (in total 48 hours), followed by a 3-month self-management program. The primary outcomes are low back pain intensity, disability, quality of life, patient's global perceived effect of recovery, and participation in work. Baseline characteristics include information on socio-demographics, low back pain, employment status, and additional clinical items status such as fatigue, duration of activities, and fear of kinesiophobia. Prognostic variables are determined for recovery at short-term (5 months) and long-term (12 months) follow-up after start of therapy.
Discussion
In a routine clinical setting it is important to provide patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain with adequate information about the prognosis of their complaint.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-252
PMCID: PMC3221649  PMID: 22047019
2.  Efficacy of MRI in primary care for patients with knee complaints due to trauma: protocol of a randomised controlled non-inferiority trial (TACKLE trial) 
Background
Patients with traumatic knee complaints regularly consult their general practitioner (GP). MRI might be a valuable diagnostic tool to assist GPs in making appropriate treatment decisions and reducing costs. Therefore, this study will assess the cost-effectiveness of referral to MRI by GPs compared with usual care, in patients with persistent traumatic knee complaints.
Design and methods
This is a multi-centre, open-labelled randomised controlled non-inferiority trial in combination with a concurrent observational cohort study. Eligible patients (aged 18–45 years) have knee complaints due to trauma (or sudden onset) occurring in the preceding 6 months and consulting their GP. Participants are randomised to: 1) an MRI group, i.e. GP referral to MRI, or 2) a usual care group, i.e. no MRI. Primary outcomes are knee-related daily function, medical costs (healthcare use and productivity loss), and quality of life. Secondary outcomes are disability due to knee complaints, severity of knee pain, and patients’ perceived recovery and satisfaction. Outcomes are measured at baseline and at 1.5, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up. Also collected are data on patient demographics, GPs’ initial working diagnosis, GPs’ preferred management at baseline, and MRI findings.
Discussion
In the Netherlands, the additional diagnostic value and cost-effectiveness of direct access to knee MRI for patients presenting with traumatic knee complaints in general practice is unknown. Although GPs increasingly refer patients to MRI, the Dutch clinical guideline ‘Traumatic knee complaints’ for GPs does not recommend referral to MRI, mainly because the cost-effectiveness is still unknown.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Registration: NTR3689.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-63
PMCID: PMC3973891  PMID: 24588860
Traumatic knee complaint; General practice; Magnetic resonance imaging; Randomised controlled non-inferiority trial; Cost-utility; Cost-effectiveness
3.  Effectiveness of intramuscular corticosteroid injection versus placebo injection in patients with hip osteoarthritis: design of a randomized double-blinded controlled trial 
Background
Recent international guidelines recommend intra-articular corticosteroid injections for patients with hip osteoarthritis who have moderate to severe pain and do not respond satisfactorily to oral analgesic/anti-inflammatory agents. Of the five available randomized controlled trials, four showed positive effects with respect to pain reduction. However, intra-articular injection in the hip is complex because the joint is adjacent to important neurovascular structures and cannot be palpated. Therefore fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance is needed.
The systemic effect of corticosteroids has been studied in patients with impingement shoulder pain. Gluteal corticosteroid injection was almost as effective as ultrasound-guided subacromial corticosteroid injection. Such a clinically relevant effect of a systemic corticosteroid injection offers a less complex alternative for treatment of patients with hip osteoarthritis not responsive to oral pain medication.
Methods/Design
This is a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial. A total of 135 patients (aged > 40 years) with hip osteoarthritis and persistent pain despite oral analgesics visiting a general practitioner or orthopaedic surgeon will be included. They will be randomized to a gluteal intramuscular corticosteroid injection or a gluteal intramuscular placebo (saline) injection. The randomization will be stratified for setting (general practitioner and outpatient clinics of department of orthopaedics). Treatment effect will be evaluated by questionnaires at 2, 4, 6, and 12 weeks follow-up and a physical examination at 12 weeks. Primary outcome is severity of hip pain reported by the patients at 2-week follow-up. Statistical analyses will be based on the intention-to-treat principle.
Discussion
This study will evaluate the effectiveness of an intramuscular corticosteroid injection on pain in patients with hip osteoarthritis. Patient recruitment has started.
Trial Registration
This trial is registered in the Dutch Trial Registry: number NTR2966.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-280
PMCID: PMC3268743  PMID: 22151921
4.  Cost-effectiveness of exercise therapy versus general practitioner care for osteoarthritis of the hip: design of a randomised clinical trial 
Background
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease, causing pain and functional impairments. According to international guidelines, exercise therapy has a short-term effect in reducing pain/functional impairments in knee OA and is therefore also generally recommended for hip OA. Because of its high prevalence and clinical implications, OA is associated with considerable (healthcare) costs. However, studies evaluating cost-effectiveness of common exercise therapy in hip OA are lacking. Therefore, this randomised controlled trial is designed to investigate the cost-effectiveness of exercise therapy in conjunction with the general practitioner's (GP) care, compared to GP care alone, for patients with hip OA.
Methods/Design
Patients aged ≥ 45 years with OA of the hip, who consulted the GP during the past year for hip complaints and who comply with the American College of Rheumatology criteria, are included. Patients are randomly assigned to either exercise therapy in addition to GP care, or to GP care alone. Exercise therapy consists of (maximally) 12 treatment sessions with a physiotherapist, and home exercises. These are followed by three additional treatment sessions in the 5th, 7th and 9th month after the first treatment session. GP care consists of usual care for hip OA, such as general advice or prescribing pain medication. Primary outcomes are hip pain and hip-related activity limitations (measured with the Hip disability Osteoarthritis Outcome Score [HOOS]), direct costs, and productivity costs (measured with the PROductivity and DISease Questionnaire). These parameters are measured at baseline, at 6 weeks, and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up. To detect a 25% clinical difference in the HOOS pain score, with a power of 80% and an alpha 5%, 210 patients are required. Data are analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Effectiveness is evaluated using linear regression models with repeated measurements. An incremental cost-effectiveness analysis and an incremental cost-utility analysis will also be performed.
Discussion
The results of this trial will provide insight into the cost-effectiveness of adding exercise therapy to GPs' care in the treatment of OA of the hip. This trial is registered in the Dutch trial registry http://www.trialregister.nl: trial number NTR1462.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-232
PMCID: PMC3198764  PMID: 21992502
5.  Back Complaints in the Elders (BACE); design of cohort studies in primary care: an international consortium 
Background
Although back complaints are common among older people, limited information is available in the literature about the clinical course of back pain in older people and the identification of older persons at risk for the transition from acute back complaints to chronic back pain.
The aim of this study is to assess the course of back complaints and identify prognostic factors for the transition from acute back complaints to chronic back complaints in older people who visit a primary health care physician.
Methods/design
The design is a prospective cohort study with one-year follow-up. There will be no interference with usual care. Patients older than 55 years who consult a primary health care physician with a new episode of back complaints will be included in this study.
Data will be collected using a questionnaire, physical examination and X-ray at baseline, and follow-up questionnaires after 6 weeks and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
The study 'Back Complaints in the Elders' (BACE) will take place in different countries: starting in the Netherlands, Brazil and Australia. The research groups collaborate in the BACE consortium. The design and basic objectives of the study will be the same across the studies.
Discussion
This consortium is a collaboration between different research groups, aiming to provide insight into the course of back complaints in older people and to identify prognostic factors for the transition from acute back complaints to chronic back complaints in older persons. The BACE consortium allows to investigate differences between older people with back complaints and the health care systems in the different countries and to increase the statistical power by enabling meta-analyses using the individual patient data. Additional research groups worldwide are invited to join the BACE consortium.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-193
PMCID: PMC3182961  PMID: 21854620
6.  Design of the Verbiest trial: cost-effectiveness of surgery versus prolonged conservative treatment in patients with lumbar stenosis 
Background
Degenerative changes of lumbar spine anatomy resulting in the encroachment of neural structures are often regarded progressive, ultimately necessitating decompressive surgery. However the natural course is not necessarily progressive and the efficacy of a variety of nonsurgical interventions has also been described. At present there is insufficient data to compare surgical and nonsurgical interventions in terms of their relative benefit and safety. Previous attempts failed to provide clear clinical recommendations or to distinguish subgroups that substantially benefit from a certain treatment strategy. We present the design of a randomized controlled trial on (cost-) effectiveness of surgical decompression versus prolonged conservative treatment in patients with neurogenic intermittent claudication caused by lumbar stenosis.
Methods/Design
The aim of the Verbiest trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of prolonged conservative treatment compared to decompressive surgery. The study is a multi-center randomized controlled trial with two parallel groups design. Patients (age over 50) presenting to the neurologist or neurosurgeon with at least 3 months complaints of neurogenic intermittent claudication and considering surgical treatment are eligible for inclusion. Participants are randomly allocated to either prolonged conservative treatment, receiving further treatment from their general practitioner and physical therapist, or allocated to surgery and operated within 4 weeks. Primary outcome measure is the functional assessment of the patient as measured by the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire at 24 months of follow-up. Data is analyzed according to the intention to treat principle.
Discussion
With a cost-effectiveness analysis the trade off between the costs of prolonged conservative treatment and delayed surgery in a smaller number of patients are compared with the current policy of surgical management. As surgery is expected to be inevitable in certain subgroups of patients, the distinction of and classification by predictive patient characteristics is most relevant to clinical practice.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2216
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-57
PMCID: PMC3058072  PMID: 21371314
7.  Effectiveness of diclofenac versus acetaminophen in primary care patients with knee osteoarthritis: [NTR1485], DIPA-Trial: design of a randomized clinical trial 
Background
Osteoarthritis is the most frequent chronic joint disease which causes pain and disability of especially hip and knee. According to international guidelines and the Dutch general practitioners guidelines for non-traumatic knee symptoms, acetaminophen should be the pain medication of first choice for osteoarthritis. However, of all prescribed pain medication in general practice, 90% consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs compared to 10% of acetaminophen. Because general practitioners may lack evidence showing a similar efficacy of acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, we present the design of a randomized open-label trial to investigate the efficacy of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (diclofenac) compared with acetaminophen in new consulters with knee osteoarthritis in general practice.
Methods/Design
Patients aged 45 years or older consulting their general practitioner with non-traumatic knee pain, meeting the clinical American College of Rheumatology criteria, and with a pain severity score of 2 or higher (on a 0-10 scale), will be randomly allocated to either diclofenac (maximum daily dose of 150 mg) or acetaminophen (maximum daily dose of 3000 mg) for 2 weeks and, if required, an additional 1-2 weeks, with a total follow-up period of 12 weeks. The primary outcomes are knee pain measured with a daily diary, and pain and function measured with the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) at baseline, and at 3, 6, 9, and 12-weeks follow-up. Secondary outcomes are patients' perceived recovery, quality of life, medical, patient, and productivity costs, compliance to therapy, co-interventions, and adverse reactions.
Discussion
The successful completion of this trial would lead to a better understanding of which medication should be used in the treatment of primary care patients with mild knee osteoarthritis.
Trial registration
Dutch trial registry NTR1485.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-7
PMCID: PMC2835660  PMID: 20067607
8.  Conservative treatment in patients with an acute lumbosacral radicular syndrome: design of a randomised clinical trial [ISRCTN68857256] 
Background
The objective is to present the design of randomised clinical trial (RCT) on the effectiveness of physical therapy added to general practitioners management compared to general practitioners management only in patients with an acute lumbosacral radicular syndrome (also called sciatica).
Methods/Design
Patients in general practice diagnosed with an acute (less than 6 weeks) lumbosacral radicular syndrome and an age above 18 years are eligible for participation. The general practitioners treatment follows their clinical guideline. The physical therapy treatment will consist of patient education and exercise therapy. The primary outcome measure is patients reported global perceived effect. Secondary outcome measures are severity of complaints, functional status, health status, fear of movement, medical consumption, sickness absence, costs and treatment preference. The follow-up is 52 weeks.
Discussion
Treatment by general practitioners and physical therapists in this study will be transparent and not a complete "black box". The results of this trial will contribute to the decision of the general practitioner regarding referral to physical therapy in patients with an acute lumbosacral radicular syndrome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-5-39
PMCID: PMC534096  PMID: 15535882

Results 1-8 (8)